Friday, November 2, 2012

Byrons Survive Sandy

Well, spread out in three locations across the country, the Byrons made it through Sandy generally in one piece.  Allison, safe in the confines of the midwest, went about her daily routine and accidentally kept calling it "Sally" (she was clearly very worried for our safety).

In D.C., I discovered that I am on the same electrical grid as the White House and we rarely lose power.  As I checked the PEPCO online map of number of customers without service, the center of D.C. remained green, noting only 1-50 customers ever lost power.  Score one for Logan Circle! 

My parents, closer to Sandy's direct path in Philadelphia, did not fare as well and lost power for several days.  While Mom sought refuge to shower at a friend's place, Dad made lemonade out of lemons and found an opportunity to cook up a storm (pun very much intended) at the local firehouse where first responders were standing by.  Read all about it!

But we did not all make it through unscathed.  On Wednesday AM, I was devastated to learn  that the storm uprooted my first Christmas tree.  Now, any of you who actually know me know how crazy I am for Christmas.  And I would have been OVERWHELMED to know my first Christmas tree still existed.  Alas, I was 9 months old when it was planted and had been unaware of its existence until I learned of its demise!  Easy come, easy go, I suppose.  Had I known, I probably would have insisted on decorating it each year, only to leave my parents with the task of undecorating it in January.  But here it is (or at least its root system), 28 years in the making. 

In D.C., we also made lemonade.  And that lemonade had vodka in it.  Monday was my roommate's birthday, so we could think of no better way to ride out the storm than to have a Birthday/Hurricane party.  We stocked up on supplies (champagne and funfetti cake) and hunkered down with chick flicks and board games.  At one point early in the evening - while emulating the "jazz walk" as acted by Heath Ledger in the teen movie classic "Ten Things I Hate About You" (based on the Taming of the Shrew! - we're cultured!) - I fell.  And when I do something, I do it 100%.  Wearing socks and long fleece pants, I slipped on the wood floors and my feet flew up in the air, and I landed squarely on my butt (thankful for lots of padding!).  As my feet made their exit from beneath me, my left foot jammed squarely into the bottom of our couch.  Ouch.  The rest of the night I felt like a wuss and complained how much it hurt, sulked, and went to bed early while both the festivities and storm were still raging. 

When I woke up it looked like this:

One xray later, it was determined I broke my toe in the silliest way a toe has ever been broken.  I am now the owner of a sexy walking shoe for the next 2-4 weeks and have been forbidden from running the Philly half in two weeks.  It's my first broken bone ever, though, so I think I'm still coming out ahead.

Overall, the Byrons came out the other side of Sandy mostly intact, sans one Christmas tree. 

Friday, October 19, 2012

Gentrification Domination

While gentrification is an ugly word, it is definitely what is going on in my hood.  14th street is a major corridor through the area, connecting the recently revitalized shopping area in Columbia Heights (an urban Target!) and the National Mall.  But the area of 14th through Logan Circle has been going through its own revitalization.  As apartment complexes are popping up, new restaurants are opening weekly.  Last night, I got to try out our neighborhood's latest addition:  Drafting Table.

This architect-themed gastropub boasts "You'd rather eat at a bar than drink in a restaurant", meaning it's a late night hang out with good food.  The menu is not extensive, but I am eager to see if they have seasonal rotations.  The decor fits the theme, with compass lamps and drafting paper menus.  A fairly small table seating area surrounds the seats at the bar.  There was a 30-45 minute wait for a table, but they will call you when your table is ready, so we were able to grab a drink at another local favorite, Pearl Dive. 

Once we got the call and were seated for our first official roommate dinner, we started out with the fried pickles.  I forgot to take a picture, but you can see how much we hated them. 

I don't even LIKE pickles and these were delicious.  They came with a chipotle mayo that was absolutely fantastic. 

For our main courses, Lizzie and I split the burger while Ali opted for fish and chips.  Ali was left a bit disappointed by her choice, stating that another new local favorite, the Brixton, had better.  In all fairness, the Brixton is a British pub, so it makes sense that their fish and chips offering was better. 

But the burger did not disappoint.  I'm no burger neophyte - I probably have at least one a week - and I can say with some certainty that this was the best burger I've ever had.  To begin with, not only is there beef in the burger, but it is mixed with brisket.  The burger comes with bacon, mushrooms, and an apple chutney which, of course, I asked for on the side (and did not touch).  The finishing touch on the burger was "crispy blue cheese" - essentially, they put blue cheese on while its still on the grill, then flip it, cheese side down, to cook it a bit.  Deeeeeelicious.  Seriously. Yum.  I was even a bit sad that I was splitting the meal and wished I had the whole thing to myself! 

Happy with our meals, we decided to try out the desserts - namely, the Snickers Pie.  When it arrived, it was in a mug and more resembled chocolate mousse.  We were confused, but continued to gobble it down anyhow.  Once we had polished it off (again, I forgot to take a picture!), our waitress came over, deeply apologetic that she had ordered us the wrong dessert!  The chocolate pudding we had just consumed was delicious and, even better, free! 

Not ones to turn down free food, the waitress brought us the actual snickers pie. It was equally delicious and I ate so much dessert that I negated any calorie points I had earned by splitting the main course.  It was all worth it. 

The beer selection could be expanded a bit, but they have a wide variety of beers on tap, including my selection - a Colorado favorite from Oskar Blues - Dale's Pale Ale.  Lizzie opted for the in-house cocktail creation "Blueprint", which proved to be a good choice.  Overall, I think they have three new regulars!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Say What?

I am finally settled in, loving life back in Washington, D.C.  Within a few weeks, I had found a great place to live in the Logan Circle section of the District, coincidentally only 2.5 blocks from two of my most favorite people - Paul and Marisa!  I didn't really have roommates until September, but Ali and Lizzie are now moved in (or back from producing the OLYMPICS!) and we have a blast.  Our neighborhood is constantly shifting and new shops and restaurants are opening every week.  I look forward to introducing you to my 'hood.  Look for a new post tomorrow on Drafting Table!

But today's post is not DC-related.  I am the daughter of an English teacher and, as such, have come to find out that my family's vocabulary can sometimes be a bit wonkier than others.  Many times in college, people thought both Allison and I were just making words up.  Granted, sometimes I was (Fellowship Paul, I came to find out growing up, is actually Fellowship Hall.  And Guy Newar on Prairie Home Companion?  Yeah, that's Guy Noir).

As is often the case, I hear words my mom would say and wouldn't necessarily ever see them spelled out.  In today's instance, I was talking about my pretentious eating habits (tongue-in-cheek, of course - my dinner most nights rotates between popcorn and Count Chocula) and called them "High Faluting".  When gchat told me I misspelled it, I went  for "High Falooting".  Perplexed, and offered no help by my gchat recipient, who had absolutely no idea what word I was even going for, I consulting the dictionary.

Did everyone else know it was one word?  And didn't have a 'g' in it?  The proper spelling is 'highfalutin' taken from high-flute, which makes even less sense.  But in my mind, it will always be a verb - to faloot - and when you're being pretentious, you're high falooting.

Now back to my highfalutin life down here in D.C. - restaurant openings await! 

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

East Coast Bound

I logged in a few weeks ago only to discover  blogger had changed its format.  I became a grumpy old man, complained about change, and then proceeded to skip writing my blog about my latest bike ride.

So with a busy workload and old man tendencies, I have not blogged in over a month.  The biggest news, for those not related to me, not friends on facebook, or otherwise living under a rock, is that I am moving back to DC. 

This was not a decision reached early, and once given the approval I momentarily freaked out and hoped it was the right decision.  After being generally unhappy over the winter, I couldn't pinpoint why until I came back to DC for the half marathon in March.   I missed home.  I missed being able to see my family without taking out a small loan to finance the flight.  I even missed rain. 

I am in DC now; back for the first time since getting the approval from my company to move back.   I've been exploring the city a bit more and am much more sure of my decision and am very excited to get here and settle in. 

When I started this blog, it was a way for my to calm myself about my impending big, scary move to Denver.  I blogged a picture of my first packed box, of my apartment, and of our roadtrip across country in the ever-spacious Echo.  I can't help think about how drastically different this move will be.

For one, I won't have an apartment when I arrive.  I'll be staying with my friends Risa and Paul while tracking down apartments and aggressively pursuing the perfect spot.  I got an apartment snatched out from underneath me this weekend and came to the conclusion that it made a lot of financial sense to wait until I'm here again.  It is both stressful and destressing - one less thing to try to plan before I move.

Secondly, I won't have the Echo.  I'm selling it in Denver and going carless in DC.  I'm so excited, but I will be sad to see my little car go.  No fun filled roadtrip, either.  I'll likely board a plane and only take one day off to load up my pod. 

Finally, I'm selling most of my belongings and hoping to just slink into an apartment that is already furnished, with the exception of my room.  I spent 6 years accumulating enough things to fill my one bedroom apartment and it is very freeing to purge so many things. 

So another scary cross-country move is on the horizon, but thankfully May and June are so action-packed I don't really have the time to get worried.  I'll do as my father and make lists and check things off and hope I remember to do everything but if I don't, it will all work out in the end. 

DC, here I come. 

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Three Things Thursday

1.) I am impatiently awaiting the arrival of Mama B! Since I had to work this morning, she is making her way through Denver on a Super Shuttle, after having to wait at baggage claim since she was forced to check a bag. Apparently she was in seating zone 8 - a zone I didn't even know existed!! I am more thankful than ever that I get to board first :)

2.) Still not much going on here otherwise.

3.) Alliy Al bought a house! She moves in on Saturday and is aiming to have a housewarming party in June. I'm saving my pennies and praying my work schedule allows me to fly out for it!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

April Fools

This past weekend in Denver it was 83 degrees, breaking temperature records and bringing people out into the park in droves. At Wash Park on Saturday, the 2.6 mile park was littered with people, blankets, day drinking, and volleyball. Spring had completely given way to summer.

This is what it looked like when I woke up this morning:

Well played, God. Well played.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

It's Been a Quiet Week in Lake Wobegon

Life has just been plugging along and I have been remiss in posting, mostly because I couldn't think of much of interest to post. I didn't do a race report for the DC half I ran two weekends ago. It was just an ok race. I wasn't as excited for it as I had been for the SF half and I wasn't nearly as prepared. I took one week off from running to let my body get rid of some on-going aches and pains, and then ended up taking three weeks off. As you can imagine, that didn't bode well for my time.

The energy in DC was great. I wasn't overly impressed by the music playing at each mile, but I was more impressed by bikers and those living along the race route who had their own music playing. Around mile 8, someone played "Shipping Up to Boston" by the Dropkick Murphys and that carried me along for several more miles (also because I couldn't remember the name of it or who sang it, and it drove me nuts thinking about it for at least 2 miles). Most importantly, I had friends along the course, and looking forward to seeing them kept me running. Tommy was waiting at mile 11 with a beer (even though we never ended up seeing each other) and Marisa and Lauren had signs waving for me near the finish line. Seeing them and hearing them cheering gave me the final umph to sprint the last 0.1 mile to officially receive my finisher medal.

Unlike my last half and my first tri, I didn't take a lot of time off from the gym afterwards, which has been nice. It's also very nice not to be on a formal training plan, even as I have a tri and century ride coming up on my calendar. I've been happily mixing swimming, short runs, and long rides with new gym classes that kick my butt.

What's more exciting is the visitors coming to Denver! Katie arrives on Sunday and we have plans for a swim before she jet sets up to Boulder for a few days. Then Mama B hits the town for a whole week starting Thursday! We've got lots of fun and exciting things planned, and eating well and keeping moving is on our agenda. I'm hoping for lots of nice weather so we can just walk and ride to lots of places. I even took two full days off of work - unheard of!

This week has been a bit of a lull before chaos - work travel starts up again soon and I have a sneaking suspicion April will be gone before I know it and May brings back to back to back to back travel, then the arrival of my DC girls!

So, lots of fun and excitement to look forward to, but dullsville around these parts for now.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Strapped on for dear life

This weekend I finally grew a pair, slipped on my bike shoes, strapped myself to my bike and hoped for the best. And it wasn't bad! We did 20 miles around the suburbs south of Denver and I'm completely in love with my new bike. Even with a 20 mph headwind, I was leading our pack going up a solid 5-10 mile climb. I never thought I'd like hills! Ok, so I still don't LOVE hills, but they don't fill me with dread anymore.

I had no troubles clipping in and out of my pedals and could really feel the difference. And while I usually rode by myself, riding with a whole pack was much more enjoyable. All of these positive outcomes really had me feeling good about my decision to upgrade my bike. Over the past month, while I've been too nervous to try out the new pedals for the first time, I started second guessing myself and worried that perhaps I had spent way too much money. I haven't. It's totally worth it.

Since my big scary first ride was out of the way, I decided to ride to work today on the new bike instead of the old one. I think I got a little cocky. As I was coming down my back alley, the garbage truck was backing up it, so I pulled off into a little gravel parking area, promptly forgot to unclip and fell over. I've been told by all cyclists that everyone falls over at least once, so hopefully this was my time. My palm is a little raw and my shin for a good raspberry, but all in all, it was mostly just my ego.

As I was sitting on the ground, still locked into my pedals, the garbage truck driver walked past and asked if I was alright. It was at this point that I realized, I can't get my shoe out of the clip. Instead of the typical road bike clips, I have mountain biker clips, for no reason other than the free shoes my boss gave me came with those on them. These clips have two screws that bolt them to the shoe. At some point between Saturday and this morning, one of those screws came out, so as I tried to twist my foot to pop the shoe out, it would instead keep rotating. I'm throwing this into the "thank goodness I found out when I did" category, because if I had tried to unclip at an intersection, I would have found out unexpectedly that I could not and likely would have fallen into traffic.

So the garbage man helped hold my shoe while I put my foot back into it and I proceeded on my way to work, clipping in and out with my left foot instead. When I got to my office, I just took my foot out entirely and walked to the elevator with one stocking foot.

Thankfully, my boss has an extra pair of shoes with her, so I'll use those after work to ride to REI to get my other shoe fixed. So long as we can figure out a way to pop my broken shoe out of the clip!

And so my adventures in riding begin...

Friday, March 2, 2012

Three Things.....Friday

Well I'm a day late, but I don't have the energy to think up Friday Facts.

1.) I'm adding Texas to a list of states I'd never want to live in (it joins Florida in that distinction). El Paso is just plain old ugly. I can't ever get my bearings, because every street looks the same, with questionable establishments, adult stores (we are by a military base, after all), and nondescript strip malls. There have been some pretty fierce dust storms, which completely hide the nearby mountains from view. I can only imagine what these dust storms are doing to my lungs.

However, Fort Bliss, the military installation I am working at, is delightful. With a quaint historic cantonment area, it is the second largest Post in the country (nearby White Sands is the largest). Fort Bliss, along with Fort Benning in Georgia, caught the brunt of the expansion required under the 2005 BRAC (Base Realignment and Closure) law, so a lot of the barracks and RCI (resident communities initiative) housing is all brand new. It's my belief that Bliss was picked because the training areas would be the closest thing the U.S. has to the climate of the Middle East.

Fort Bliss, however, also was named so using the same line of thinking used to name Greenland. Trying to make a fairly unappealing location seem nicer by giving it a good name.

2.) All of my good eating, drinking, and exercising habits have really been askew the last two weeks. I need to get my act together; I've been dehydrated, tired, and my stomach is slowly filling out again. No Bueno.

3.) While I was originally going to use my newfound $650 United airlines dollars in a practical way, to get back east for the multiple trips I have to make this year, my less practical-side of my brain now wants to go somewhere fun. But where to go?! Ideas?

Monday, February 27, 2012

Its Hard out here for a Pimp

Anybody watch the Oscars last night? If so, you'll understand the title.

But more importantly, I've started out my week by big pimpin'.

I am flying to El Paso today. My original flight was scheduled for 10:11 and as I waited to board, using my fancy pants early boarding Premiere status, the airline staff kept asking for a volunteer to give up their seat. I went over and asked when the next flight would be and, hearing that it wouldn't be until 5, I held off and boarded the plane. Once again, while sitting waiting to take off, the flight attendant said they were still looking for a volunteer and added that it was for an active duty military personnel, flying on orders. Already on the fence, I volunteered.

Once I got back to the gate, the wonderfully joyful woman I had talked to earlier greeted me with "Oh honey, it was you!! Thank you!" The United staff members were wonderful, not only setting me up with my $400 voucher, but also tacking on a second set of rewards - I can choose between 10,000 reward miles, $250 voucher, or 20% off a flight purchase. A whooping $650 flight dollars just for hanging out in the airport working, instead of working from El Paso. Oh, and she threw in a $15 meal voucher, too, and I'm getting paid per diem today.

But thats not why I'm big pimpin. Faced with uncomfortable airport chairs, slow internet, and constant airline announcements, I went for broke, bought an online one-time access pass, and am spending the day in the United Club area of DIA.

Boy, I don't know if I can ever go back. Its so nice up here. Comfortable chairs, free snacks (and good ones!), coffee, wine, spirits, and beer. I'm catching up on work emails while watching CNN and I haven't even explored all of what this area has to offer. I'm slowly making my way further into the depths of the Club area, going slowly so no one spots me as an outsider and sends me back down to steerage. I looked up the membership costs ($525/year - ouch!) but boy, if I had a lot of layovers (I normally don't), I can really see why it would be worth the price!

And goodness, I'm really glad I showered this morning and put on real pants!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Three Things Thursday

1.) Last week I had an annual doctor appointment and had blood drawn to make sure all my insides are as healthy as they should be. During the visit I found out that my blood pressure is still nice and low and, just barely, I'm no longer anemic - hooray! I got the results over the phone on the rest, including my cholesterol. I came in at a whopping 199, just skidding in under the 'bad cholesterol' threshold, but for very good reason! My lipids and bad cholesterol are all happily below the right levels and my good cholesterol is off the charts into super duper territory. I'd repeat back the exact numbers but quite frankly she read them very quickly and I just generally understood the thumbs up results. I'll get the full numbers in the mail for my records, but its good to know my insides are happy!

2.) My knee really hurt on Tuesday. I couldn't straighten it all the way in bed and couldn't lift it to be level with my upper leg, so I iced it and took the day off. Yesterday I had a long day, didn't get out of work til 7 and again took a rest day. Today my knee feels better than it has all year, since my graceful fall/slip down the slopes at Keystone. I think I'm going to take off tonight as well, let everything really get back to a happy place, then bang out an awesome 10k race pace run this weekend.

3.) Tomorrow I'm headed to Steamboat! Yay! Another weekend full of skiing, snowshoeing, and running, with a little bit of Euchre in there. I've never played it, but I'm going to a Cold Butt Euchre tournament on Saturday - who wants to be my partner?!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Hooray for Ouray!

On my drive back to Denver after a long weekend away, I was once again struck with an overwhelming sense of gratitude for my life. Even our six hour trek (nearly 7.5 on the way there, at night) was fun, packed into a pick up truck full to the brim with 5 people and gear. We took the 'scenic' route of 285 instead of I-70, although really, any drive in western Colorado is a scenic one.

We were coming back from a weekend birthday celebration in Ouray. Eleven of us trekked to the southwestern corner of the state from Denver, Ft Collins and Steamboat to celebrate the 29th birthday of our friend Jess VanderKwaak. For her birthday, she wanted to go ice climbing, for which Ouray is internationally known. Our pick up truck full of 5 people arrived at 12:30 Friday night and we were up with the sun (some of us begrudgingly) on Saturday am.

Our early rise was somewhat thwarted when the rental shop didn't open til 9, so Jess and Morgan made good use of our extra time by doing an impromptu photo shoot in the street.

But then we got our gear and headed to Box Canyon. We first stopped to put on our helmets and crampons, so we could hike about a mile to our site.

I really hope I don't tear my ski pants!

After a short walk down the canyon, holding onto a guide rope, we were ready to climb!

We couldn't have asked for better weather and soon we were all up on the ice. The first climb was pretty easy, starting out with a 45 degree angle before becoming vertical.

The third climb was a bit more vertical:
And here's Katie, also a birthday girl, on our last climb of the day, a solid 180 foot climb!

Since I didn't want to walk out the way we had walked into the canyon, I topped out on this last climb, with shaking calves and tired arms.

Still full of smiles!

The next day we were back at the rental place, picking up cross country skis.

All the cool kids accidentally own the same socks

After some debate, we headed 25 miles up and over a pass to the town of Silverton. Coincidentally, Silverton was having their annual Skijoring competition. Essentially, skijoring is a sport where skiers are pulled by either dogs or horses, kind of like a winter rodeo. They hold on for dear life and go over jumps and around object, collecting rings along the way. The goal is to have the fastest time and not die in the process.

We watched a few riders and then headed out on our skis.

The trick to mastering cross-country skiing is to not fall down.

After skiing a bit in Silverton, we packed up into our cars again and headed back towards Ouray, stopping in Ironton for a bit more skiing. Ironton is a ghost town that used to be a staging area for Ouray, but has since gone the way of all flesh, save but a few buildings.

Morgan and Susie hanging out in an old Ironton building.

After another night at home, making a group dinner and playing games, we slept in til 8 on Sunday, had a delightful breakfast, and began our six hour drive home. Before heading out of town, we stopped at Moose Tracks, the local chocolate store, and indulged in a few sweet treats. While I didn't buy any, my favorite were the chocolate ice climbers - talk about knowing your audience!!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Three Things Thursday

1.) Its been a slow work week, which never means good things for me. Mostly, it means I have trouble motivating to complete the work I do have - I am much better under deadlines and pressure. Yesterday, although slow, was particularly challenging one that stressed me out and really had me frustrated. In dealing with a difficult situation, though, I am proud of the way I handled it and this morning, as the situation continued to unfold, both my boss and VP of my division supported the decisions I made and my initial reaction was correct. I am also more than happy that they are both now involved in the situation and it is no longer in my hands to deal with.

But, as a direct result of my workday, I decided I needed a mental and physical break. Instead of doing my planned workout, I left work somewhat early, got a bottle of wine and a 'modified' version of my favorite 'what a bad day' meal. Anyone who knows me, knows this means bread and brie!! I haven't had any in ages and, in the spirit of moderation, I got a demi-loaf and a small sliver of brie. I snuggled into my comfy pants and watched the first season of Sex and the City. It was needed and I feel ready to get back at it today.

2.) Last night I also realized, while the wine was nice, I don't really miss it. It was expensive (money that could be better spent elsewhere) and I awoke at 3 am, unable to fall back asleep (with a tiny hangover, to boot). It was nice to take a breather, but it re-solidified all my reasons for not drinking and I'm happy to continue down that path.

3.) I've been tinkering with what I eat before runs, having had some successes and some super bad horrible failures. Today I try another method: eat nothing. I'll nom on a banana at some point this afternoon, but then head out after work on a fairly empty stomach. To supplement my run, I'll snack on some of my "SportBean" jelly beans along the way, a few at a time. Hopefully this gameplan will eliminate any gastronomical pyrotechnics or, as Katie says, the "need to go whoops in my pants." Isn't running glamorous?

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Somewhat Wordless Wednesday

This is the motto/tagline of the James O'Rourke Memorial Triathlon, held in North Platte Nebraska towards the end of April. The sprint distance triathlon is held each year in memory of my friend Adam's father, who died in 1991 during the running portion of his first triathlon. I am honored to be racing the tri along with Adam and Morgan this year.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


The first mile of every run I want to quit. My knees hurt, my ankles are cracking and my lungs are pleading for me to go back and sit on the couch. Most days, I want to cut my run short; to take a different turn, reverse and head back home. I tell myself I would still be burning calories. I would still be getting in a workout, but wouldn’t have to put myself through 45 minutes to an hour and a half of pounding pavement. No one would be the wiser.

A big part of me wants to give in. To settle for a shorter run. But another part of my brain pushes me on.

It’s the part of my brain that knows the pain is only temporary. That somewhere between 2 and 3.5 miles, my body yields and running begins to feel good. This part of my brain didn’t always exist. I have never been highly self motivated to push my body harder and farther. When I first started running, I wouldn’t even run by myself. Instead I was dragged out kicking and screaming twice a week by the most persistent, and chatty, friend I know. Eventually she learned to lie to me about the distance, knowing I would only complain.

Now I almost always run by myself. I still complain to myself, feeling as though I can’t relax on a weekend until my long run is out of the way. I still tell myself, no one would know if I didn’t run the full distance. But I would know.

And that keeps me going.

I used to think that a half marathon was well beyond what I can do. It petrified me; like most people, I’m not a fan of failure. But now, as I’m prepping for my second one, I have moved from terrified to excited. My body can do this. It may not do it fast, but it doesn’t stop.

I may never be a strong runner and I may never get that addictive “I need running” high that others get, but I don’t quit. And its worth it.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Making Moves

Today I 'officially' registered for the Elephant Rock Century Ride in June. I've got about 4 months to man up and stop being afraid of my clip pedals.

After paying my registration fee, I quickly searched around for a training plan. Essentially, the biggest part of training is getting your sitting bits used to the saddle. I can attest to the importance; my sitting bits were quite angry with me after an hour spin class on Friday where we didn't come up out of the saddle for 45 minutes. I can only imagine how 6-7 hours on bike would feel.

The length and ultimate mileage of the training plans vary as well, some running 10 or 12 weeks and building up to anywhere from 60-70 miles before the main event. Similar to half marathon training, I won't be training the actual distance before the ride. The training plan I've liked best so far has 5 days of riding; I'm hoping to find one with 4. For the first 1.5 months, I'll also be training for a sprint tri in Nebraska (say what?), so I'll also want to sneak in some running and swimming. I want to have my training plan mapped out before my half in March so I can hit the ground running - if I give myself too much time off, I don't ever start again!

Of course, while I was looking up a century training plan, I also looked up training plans for the half ironman. They are intimidating, for sure. Not because of any individual workout, but because of the overall volume of workouts. I found an 18 week plan that I like, which gives me 2 weeks 'free' in June before I start up again. This weekend I will be with a buddy who trains for full ironmans, and I am curious to ask him how he balances life and workouts. I feel as though I could easily become a zombie who eats, sleeps, and works out. With all the camping, hiking, climbing, and kayaking I wanted to do this summer, I will have a full schedule to fit it all in!

For the century ride, at least, I have my good friend Morgan to ride with. She has already schemed about doing rides up Lookout Mountain before work at least once a week (a ride that she calls 'easy' - crazy girl!). I'm eager to remain on a training plan for the majority of the year (after both my tri and my half, I promptly stopped working out and got out of shape; I hate working out, just to workout, without a race to train for), but a bit apprehensive that my whole year is already planned out.

Other than that, things are pretty quiet around here. Another weekend of running and skiing, although with ice and flat light, the conditions at Keystone weren't all that great. Its another quiet work week filled with little odds and ends, but nothing overly filling.

Have you ever done a century ride? Did your butt survive?

Friday, February 10, 2012

Random Friday Facts

1.) I can't stand to be around peaches.

2.) I get car sick really easily.

3.) I hate waking up to an alarm.

4.) When I'm not completely overloaded with work, I find it hard to accomplish anything.

5.) I'm excited to go to El Paso, but found out that neighboring Juarez is the murder capital of the world. El Paso is one of the safest cities in the country.

6.) I never quite feel 'put together', even when I've showered and pre-picked an outfit to wear.

7.) I think that chlorine totally counts as a shower.

8.) I already miss football season, but enjoy having Sundays free.

9.) I really need to clean my apartment.

10.) I think its ridiculous that weekends book up so fast.

11.) I'm still terrified of clip shoes for the bike

12.) I have a terrible memory for birthdays.

13.) I like running in the snow.

14.) In the past month, I've watched a friend get engaged and another had her second baby. There are three more babies slated for the spring, then begins the year of weddings. Sometimes I feel like I'm on the slow bus.

15.) I love my life in Denver, but sometimes I miss my friends and family back east so much that I consider some day moving back.

16.) I still check behind the shower curtain every time I come home.

Happy Friday!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Three Things Thursday

1.) The last few weeks have been a constant tug of war between my knees, hips, and back. At any given moment, one or all of them are cranky, mostly on my right side. When I'm good about using the foam roller, my hip calms down substantially, but I can't seem to figure out how to please me knee and lower back. My cranky knee, I believe, is from my tumble down the black diamond with my ski still on. It doesn't hurt on a regular basis, just going down stairs (getting off the bus is fun), and when I twist it side to side. I'm beginning to think that between my knee and back issues, it may be time to get a new pair of running shoes. Crazy runners switch out their shoes every 100 - 400 miles and I've had mine for just about a year and two half marathon training sessions. I don't understand how runners can afford to buy $100 pairs of sneakers so regularly.

2.) My travel schedule is ramping back up again! I'm slated to head to El Paso Texas at the end of this month. Yee haw! I am looking forward to getting in some warm outdoor runs (don't worry mom, I'll steer clear of the Mexican border!)

3.) 2012 and 2013 are shaping up to be years of lots of weddings. Two are already planned, with a third shaping up (Congrats Risa and Paul!!!!) Between my half IM, UMD Homecoming, weddings (and associated events) and holidays, I might just move back east for a season or two!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

Working on budgets today. Numbers are hard.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Ramblings from a tired mind

Well the long weekend in Vail was absolutely delightful. It was so enjoyable to be able to ski all day and then be home in 20 minutes and in the hot tub. I skied all day Friday and Saturday, exploring more of the mountain, including Blue Sky Basin and the back bowls. The snow was just ok; they hadn't gotten any more snow since the previous week. But considering I still have no idea how to ski powder, I was ok with that. I came home Sunday blissfully exhausted, which followed me into Monday.

Enjoying the condo rental only furthered an idea several of us have had to put in for a seasonal rental in Frisco next ski season. Typically these rentals are about $200/month and well worth it if you are saving time and gas. So far in 2012, I've skied all weekends but the first, so I have no doubt that next year, with a car that can actually go uphill in the snow, I would make a condo worth while.

Other than that, its been a quiet week in Lake Wobegon. I've got a friend coming in tonight from DC who I'll hang out with tonight and tomorrow. Then saturday is the Cupid's Undies Run - a 1.5 mile run around Cap Hill in your undies (or boxers and tank top, if you're me). Sunday looks like I'll be back up on the slopes, but honestly, I'm starting to wear down again and need sleep. These Coloradans are like the energizer bunny! Nothing can get them to sit down!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

a picture from my weekend:

"Our lives are better than other people's vacations"

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

East Coastin' It

Since moving to Denver, I have realized how timezone-centric those crazy East Coasters are. I'm not without fault, I, too, believed that EST was the center of the world, or at least of the U.S. The markets open and close on the New York City time, much to the chagrin of a buddy of mine who drives to Boulder every morning at 5:30, and those on the East Coast constantly forget the time difference for us west of the Mississippi.

So that's how I found myself riding to work this morning at 5:50, getting to work in time to settle in for a 6:30 am conference call. For most of last year, I had bi-weekly status calls for a project at C&O Canal that also started at 6:30, so I'm not unfamiliar with this hour of the day. My favorite part of the ride, and why I start it at just about 6 am, is that at 6 am, Logan Street goes from one lane with parking on both sides up to two lanes, removing a row of parking. Every morning an army of tow trucks go up the street, stopping to haul away any poor, unsuspecting vehicles that have overstayed their welcome.

I don't know why, but I thoroughly enjoy watching this. Denver isn't quite as quiet as DC was this early; I really used to enjoy being out and about by myself in the stillness of the city. Since Denverites are active no matter what time of day it is, I have to settle for delighting in the misfortune of others. How very unColorado of me.

I guess I enjoy watching the tow trucks because I'm a rule follower. I don't like breaking them and I get all "that's not fair" when people break rules and get away with it (life? fair? ha!!) while I meticulously read posted signs and the fine print and instructions. That's not to say I won't break rules or ignore signs - like the time Morgan and I played Russian Roulette at a parking meter in LoDo, hoping that since the meter reader had just been by, we wouldn't get a ticket. (We did - a $50 one).

I guess I just feel that following the rules shows a respect for others. And mostly, Coloradans are a state full of super nice rule followers. They are even so nice that they let in the jerk in the expensive car who drives down the shoulder of a backed up highway. But apparently I am the unfeeling East Coaster in their midst, who delights in watching cars get towed and will be all up on the bumper of the car in front just so that no cars can cut back in.

Some East Coast habits are just hard to shake.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Three Things Thursday

1.) I'm trying to resist the urge to go skiing this weekend. This was supposed to be my "no ski" weekend full of sleep and house cleaning and running and swimming, but now a friend is going up to A-Basin on Saturday and I really wanna go. Given that I've had a crazy work week and will be done by noon on Friday, I may give into temptation.

2.) Today would have been a perfect day to ride to work, but I am scared to try clipped in shoes on Colfax, certain I'll tip over into a bus and die. Someday this weekend I am going to just ride around in circles in my back parking lot and practice clipping in and out on a moving bike. It was all well and good while I was on the trainer, but trying it while moving is filling me with dread.

3.) I'm really, really liking not drinking so much that I may carry it through until my half marathon. The no-beer idea goes all the way until then, but really, its just easier to not drink at all. Between not eating out and not drinking, I'm saving a ridiculous amount of money. Which is good, because buying a new bike and new car all within one year is also extremely terrifying to me.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

I officially own a bike worth more than my car.

And I'm officially a two bike family.

Over/under on how long it takes to break my face. Clip pedals are terrifying.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

And the Oscar goes to....

Well, the Oscar nominations came out and, boy, was I disappointed. There were the movies we all knew would be big with the Oscar crowd - The Artist, The Descendants, The Help, but I thought there were a good amount that were missing in action.

For one, Tilda Swinton was shut out of the acting categories, as was her movie "We need to talk about Kevin." Also shut out? Ryan Gosling, who had not one by two critically acclaimed performances this year in "Drive" and "Ides of March" and Michaal Fassbender in "Shame." I'm never quite clear what's lead versus supporting, technically speaking, but either one of those could have replaced Brad Pitt's lead actor nom in Moneyball. I watched Moneyball this weekend and while it was good, I wasn't blown away or really drawn into the emotion of the storyline, like I was for The Descendants. I don't think it deserves a best picture nom either, but do agree that Jonah Hill deserves his nod for supporting in the film. Like a lot of other comedians (Will Ferrell/Jim Carrey), I like him much more in calmer roles with a quieter humor.

The ladies of The Help cleaned up with 3 nominations in 2 categories. Although the movie I'm dying to see, Albert Nobbs, scored a nomination for Glenn Close. Her peak acting days were when I was far too young to see her movies (Fatal Attraction came out when I was 3), so I have no basis for previous performances, unlike powerhouse Meryl Streep who is managing to out-do even herself. Rounding out the best actress category are Rooney Mara and Michelle Williams, but I think its clear the race is between Close and Streep.

For best supporting, I think Octavia Spencer is the favorite (however, can't fully judge until I see Albert Nobbs, for which Janet McTeer is nominated), but was very happy to see Melissa McCarthy, cousin to Jenny, get a nomination for Bridesmaids. A raunchy, female-led movie doesn't often get the critical acclaim that Bridesmaids has received and I glad to see the recognition continue.

I was surprised that only 2 songs were nominated for Best Original Song, none of which were nominated in the Golden Globes. There were some big names attached to some of the original songs this year, including Elton John, Madonna, and Mary J. Blige. Even Glenn Close wrote the lyrics for Albert Nobbs' original song. But none of these were nominated, instead the academy stuck to 2 songs from animated features, The Muppets and Rio.

Since such a small range of films got acting nods, leaving off 50/50, We need to talk about Kevin, Drive, Ides of March, Shame, J.Edgar, A Dangerous Method, and Pariah, my to-see list before the Oscars has been trimmed substantially. While I really liked The Descendants, I didn't think it required much stretch of the imagination for George Clooney to play that role. He's a great actor and will make great films. Overall, I don't think the quality of films were included this year, like they were last year. Last year brought us The Fighter, Winter's Bone, Black Swan, and the King's Speech - all just incredibly well made and well acted films. Other than The Artist, I guess I am just left with the feeling that this year's choices just aren't as great.

Either way, I will still plow through the list of movies I want to see. And, hands down, I'm more excited for the Oscars show this year than I am for the dinky Giants/Pats Superbowl, which is ridiculously underwhelming.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Boom, Boom, Pow

I hate when the people here call powder 'Pow Pow'. I don’t know why, it just bugs me. That being said, I’d never really skied in it. Being from the east coast, what I called powder, they called a standard day on the groomed runs. This weekend, I got my first crack at real ‘pow’. And boy, did I suck at it.

Our first run, a black diamond which was a poor choice for a warm up, already had several inches of snow on it, which I found difficult to maneuver in. By the end of the day, I had it down, but moguls on your first go, well, I’ll never do that again. My thighs were burning by the time I got down to the bottom, even at my snail pace. After a few more runs, I was warming up and getting more comfortable. Then we went up the T-bar.

I’ve ridden T-bars before, but not one up the ridge of a blustery mountain (winds were reaching 50-60 mile gusts with whiteout conditions at times). It also didn’t help that the message boards while waiting in line for the lift kept saying “Expert Terrain Only!” with double black diamonds. I thought, uh guys are you sure about this? They are much better than me, of course, but I figured, hey, what’s the worst that can happen? (Broken legs, arms, and necks, in case you were wondering).

The T-bar took some getting used to, but I was finally getting the hang of it. At some points, I was too short and my skis lifted up off the ground, which was a bit disconcerting, but my buddy Josh kept pushing down on my shoulder to try to keep me on the bar. I should also mention that balance isn’t my really a strength of mine. When we could finally see the top of the lift, I promptly got my skis crosses, fell, and took Josh down with me. All I could do was giggle and do my best to roll out of the way of the next rider. Thankfully, 3 people behind us had already fallen off too, so I had plenty of time to shuffle over. As people rode past me (still laying on the ground, giggling), no one laughed at me – they just gave me knowing smiles. Apparently falling off of T-Bar is a right of passage.

But then I actually had to ski down. I’ve heard of snow so deep your skis just disappear in it, but I’ve never seen it. Not only did my skis disappear, but the better part of my legs did as well. It was insane. I got about four feet before promptly face planting again, giggling again (what can I say, the peak of Breck is pretty high up. Perhaps I was delirious!). I slowly got the hang of it and made my way down, but it was definitely a new experience! At least whenever you fall, its pretty much like falling into a pillow!

The rest of the day was spent safely away from double black diamonds. Towards the end of the afternoon, I got split up from my group and actually really enjoyed just skiing blues at my own pace. I’ve been working on my form (the hardest part lately is remembering to actually use my poles!) and I enjoyed not worrying about how fast I was going, just going back and forth on moguls and resting when I wanted to.

So I'm calling the day a success. And I'm eager to head to Vail in two weeks and ski three days in a row! And then schedule a massage for that Monday...

Snowbeards are all the rage.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Three Things Thursday

1.) I always knew my road bike was crap. It is low end. As in, the lowest end you can get. But, at the time I was living in oh-so-expensive DC, was signed up for my first Tri, and was switching from years-old hybrid to a road bike: anything would have been lighter than that sucker. I hated biking it up the hills of Rosslyn and Courthouse and was delighted to get a good deal and put a reasonable amount of money into the new road bike. I mean, at that point I didn't even have a credit card! I was living within my means (what a crazy concept!) and it was all I could afford.

Last night I went bike shopping. I'd been doing a little bit of research, trying to understand the different components, but was still pretty confused so I was just hoping to get an intro lesson from someone at the bike shop and then text back the info to all my bike-knowing friends.

The first shop was a bit unimpressive. I didn't realize this, of course, until I went to the second shop but that is besides the point. By the end of the night, I had about 4 bikes in my mind, ranging from $1600 - $1850, which was happily in my budget. Soon, I will own a bike that is worth more than my car. And, if you're choking on your coffee reading how expensive these bikes are, just know, these are the CHEAP, 'entry-level' bikes. Ouch.

On Saturday I will go back and test ride them all, figuring out which one suits me best. Its a lot of information to take in all at once, so I'm feeding all the information I'm learning back to the people who know what it means, getting their feedback, then will figure out which fits best!

2.) Since I was already down south on I-25 near one of the Landmark Theaters, I stopped over to a movie once I was done picking the brains of all the bike experts. I went to see Carnage and I loved it! Allison posted a review of it earlier this week that was pretty darn accurate. Overall, I'm glad I went to see it and the actors were all great, but I'm not sure it would nab a best picture nom, even as one of the extra five they've started giving out. Tonight I'm hoping to finally see My Week with Marilyn, followed tomorrow night by Moneyball, which I've gotten in the mail from my newly res-signed Netflix account. Little does Netflix know, I'm planning on ditching them again just as soon as the awards season is over.

3.) The mountains are FINALLY getting snow. Finally. Sunday is looking like a great powder day, with upwards to a foot of snow falling on Saturday into Sunday morning. After a bit of bartering and negotiating, my buddy Kyle and I will be heading up bright and early to get some fresh powder (I have negotiated for a Starbucks stop - for both his safety and mine). It will be one of my first powder days since moving and already my 5th day up on the slopes, already surpassing the number of days I made it up last year. My goal is double digit days.

Monday, January 16, 2012


Over the last two weeks, you may have noticed the changes I've been making to this blog. First and foremost, I've actually been posting! Amazing what a normal work schedule will allow. I was then inspired to change my format once I designed my Dad's blog for him (seriously, have you read it yet?) I found out all the cool things blogger could do, so I futzed around a bit and created my new design.

I also had changed up my subheader. When I started this blog nearly two years ago (!!), I was documenting my big, scary, life changing move out west. Somehow, typing out my progress and decisions helped make the move to Denver somewhat less terrifying. Then the blog charted my progress into making friends, finishing up my grad degree and getting my AICP. Check, Check, and Check. So last week I changed the header to simply "Adventures in Denver"

But I was no longer Movin' on Up. I had moved. And was already up. 5,280 feet up, to be exact. It bothered me a little, that this blog no longer really had a focus or one defined topic or issue. It was basically just a way to keep friends and family in touch with all my goings-on in Colorado.

So today, as I was stalking my own Facebook profile to see how embarrassing my well out-dated "About Me" was, I remembered my favorite quote. I've blogged on in before, on one morning that just made me especially grateful for where I was in life. "Thank you, God, for this good life, and forgive us if we do not love it enough" - Garrison Keillor

Well, there can't be a much better theme than that. I try to be appreciative and grateful for everything that life has to offer, not just the big things or events. Its easy to get grumpy and lose sight of how fortunate we all are and this title will be a constant reminder to me to keep perspective. A family friend, Mrs. McClure, also inspires me to do daily - her Facebook statuses are always so full of joy and gratitude. On Saturday I read one aloud to my friends - it recapped her day, from a morning breakfast with friends, to hiding in the bushes with her camera (to capture birdies, not neighbors, of course), to the exciting end to the 49ers/Saints game. They always make me smile and remember to find joy in every day.

So thats the complete re-tool. Thanks, gratitude and trying to love life more than enough to make God proud.

Weekend Recap

My weekend was pretty awesome. After I left work on Friday, I ran into Orange Darth Vader, stumping for the Broncos/Tim Tebow. The city was full of excitement and were even pretty darn cheery after the Patriots manhandled them.

Then I went to the Pro-Rodeo at the National Western Stock Show. It was something else. And I learned that in order to make the bulls and broncos buck, they tie their balls down. I dare say I'd buck, too.

I went to bed early and was up with the sun (begrudgingly) Saturday morning. I skied at Keystone with a couple of friends and it was a beautiful day on the slopes. We couldn't figure out why it was so crowded, then remembered it was MLK weekend. I've been working on my form a lot this year and felt much more in control at higher speeds. While the snow was much better than in December, I still fell victim to an icy patch and ate it pretty hard on a black diamond. I'm not quite sure how I landed, but I slid about 40 feet, lost a ski, and woke up feeling like I'd been hit by a Mack Truck on Sunday am. But I kept skiing Saturday and felt pretty good.

Courtesy of my wonderful fall, my knee was all sorts of angry with me on Sunday, so I skipped my planned run and took a rest day instead. I iced, ibu'd and watched football and the Golden Globes and it was delightful.

It was a wonderful weekend and, once again, I was sad to have Sunday night sneak up on me so quickly.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Movie Review Friday

Last night, after an accidental two hour nap on my couch, I met up with the Denver Cinema Club at Chez Artiste to watch The Artist. Having never seen a silent film, I was excited but also a bit worried that I might not pick up everything the movie was trying to convey.

Those worries were unfounded. The film made excellent use of emotions, sound, and color to bring the audience into their storyline. There was one part of the movie I really enjoyed, but I won't provide any spoilers here. While I thought it was a French film, I was mistaken; it is Belgian. The movie follows a few years of the life of George Valentin, a wildly popular silent movie star, as movies begin their transition from silent to 'talkies'. The take home message could be applied to anything, especially in our current climate of rapidly changing technology: if you aren't able to adapt, you can quickly become obsolete.

The discussion after the movie was one of my favorite parts, though. One gentleman was a connoisseur of silent films and said the movie took a lot of shots and lines from many famous films of that era, which he enjoyed. The group went out for a longer discussion at a local restaurant, but it was 9:30 and I was tired. The youngest member in the group, I clearly had the earliest bedtime. I was disappointed, though, that no one else in the group has seen Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy yet.

Yesterday I also got my latest weekly email on the new movies at the local Landmark theaters. I have been checking off the list of movies I want to see, one by one, but now two more have opened nearby: Carnage and The Iron Lady. I have heard that while Meryl Streep does an incredible job (duh) the rest of the movie is somewhat disappointing, so that film may drop to the bottom of my list.

What Oscar-worthy films are on your list?

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Three Things Thursday

1.) Tonight I'm going to see The Artist. I've never seen a silent film before and certainly not one in a theater. Its showing at the same theater I went to last weekend, which I was underwhelmed by. The parking was terrible and I have to take I-25 to get there, but I'm excited to be meeting up with the new movie-going group I joined and have someone to discuss it with after. (Seriously - has anyone else seen Tinker yet?? We need to talk).

2.) The National Western Stock Show is in town and I'm finally going this year. Last year I watched the opening parade as it went by my office building, but never made it to the actual event. I'll be attending the Pro-Rodeo Friday night, featuring the Pikes Peak Rangerettes! Whatever that means.

3.) Last night I tried my hand at turkey burgers from scratch. I didn't follow a recipe, which I tend not to do, and just threw some spices, an egg, and some bread crumbs into a bowl with the ground turkey. I think the burgers themselves were ok, but I topped it with a new "simply heinz" ketchup that has no high fructose corn syrup. It was pretty gross. Super sweet, kind of like the ketchup in Australia. I cooked up another burger to bring for lunch today, so I'll investigate and make sure it wasn't something in the burger. I'm a little bummed that ketchup was so nasty. I'm going to take the rest of the turkey, make up some meatballs, and make enough for dinner tonight and lunch tomorrow. I'm actually getting pretty good at the whole leftovers concept!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

Always make sure the popcorn back is sealed tight before putting it away. Otherwise your entire kitchen will look like this and you will have to vacuum the insides of your stove.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Social Butterfly

Last night in an effort to further expand my social horizons (and have someone to go to the movies with) I joined both a book club and a movie club.

I used MeetUp, the same site I had used to find people to run with when I first moved to Denver. essentially, you log in, search for whatever activity you want, and voila, a vast assortment of choices. I quickly found a film club that goes to the movies every other Thursday and polls what movie the group would like to see. This weeks choice had all four movies that I wanted to see, minus Tinker Tailor, which I saw this past weekend. After the movie, the group goes for dinner and discusses it - wonderful! My nerdy tendencies were digging it.

The book group I'm a little less enthusiastic about, especially since I just realized I will have to miss their first meeting. I have never been a part of a book group before, mostly because I'm somewhat picky with what I like to read and fiction has never been a sell for me. Take last night, for instance, I have book ADD and very nearly started reading my new biography on Mary, Queen of Scots instead of finishing In Cold Blood (I'm starting to think perhaps I should throw a cheerier book into rotation, as well). I just bought this month's read: Angle of Repose by Wallace Stenger, but may just return it seeing as I won't be able to go to the meet up anyhow. Have any of you guys read it? Is it worth keeping around?

What was more disturbing, however, was what I discovered when I went to Barnes and Noble at lunch today. Within the fiction section, there is a whole row - multiple shelves and bookcases - filed under the category "Teen Paranormal Romance." Seriously? I get it. Sparkling vampires in the shape of Robert Pattinson fueled a bit of a craze - but was that enough to create a whole new genre?

As I rode the escalator down to make my purchase, shaking my head and thinking "kids these days" I suddenly realized: I can't judge. Not only do I own all four books in the Twilight series (not one of my finer choices) but I also own, on DVD, the entire series of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. And really, wasn't Buffy the original Bella? Except with brains, strength, and substantially less complaining, of course.

So maybe I'll keep the Stenger book anyhow, lest people judge me for the "teen paranormal romance" books sitting on my bookshelves at home.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Weekend Recap

Most of my weekend was spent horizontal, snuggled in my flannel sheets. I slept until 11 both days, which is pretty unheard of.

Given the amount of sleep I got, I was happy with the amount I accomplished. Saturday morning I jumped into my ill-fitting swim suit and headed to the pool. Given that I am not a long-distance swimmer, I wanted to get a baseline for where I was at on the 1.2 mile swim. I was delighted to feel really good in the water.

1.2 miles is 2,112 yards. I figured I'd round up to 2,200, or 88 laps of the pool. Most of my swimming workouts in recent years have been between 1500 to 2000 yards, mostly because I get bored and stop. I jumped in and got right to it, not bothering to start with my usual 900 yard warm up. The most difficult part was keeping track of my laps. I have a tendency to let my mind wander and then forget how far I've gone. At the halfway point, I saw 18 minutes on my watch and knew I could finish under 40. With the last 1000, I started counting backward and increased my pace. I happily finished at around 37 minutes, so my official 1.2 mile time would have been around 35/36 minutes. Not too shabby for a baseline!

The swim really energized me and I felt great for the rest of the day. The best I've felt all year 0 all 7 days of it. As the snow began to fall, I headed out to the movies to see Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy - a movie I desperately need someone else to see so that I can discuss it with them. By the time I got out of the theater 2 hours later, all of Denver was blanketed with snow, including the Echo. I had been planning to see another movie that night, but happily made dinner and snuggled under my covers and went to bed early.

Sunday morning I woke at 6:30 to go cook breakfast for the kiddies at the Ronald McDonald House. However, I was still sick and opted to crawl back under my covers and promptly slept for 5 mores hours. I woke up with a pretty serious headache that stayed with me all day, but slugged out my 4 mile run. I then headed to a local bar, nalgene in hand, and watched Tebow defeat the Steelers. It was pretty incredible to watch that game in a crowded bar full on Broncos fans. I wasn't all that jazzed up over the game, but at the end, I was on the edge of my seat, nervous like all of the other faithful followers. The bar erupted during overtime and I was screaming and jumping as if it were the Eagles (if only it had been!).

Afterward, I met a friend for a quick dinner. I hadn't eaten at the bar and had stuck to water. We hit up the grocery store and I was back in bed by 9 - a mere ten hours after I had woken up. All in all, it was a relaxing and fun-filled weekend and I'm hoping a low key week will kick this bug for good!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Mission: Success

Last night I went to the DU hockey game. In what turned out to be quite the exciting third period, they lost to the Chargers from Alabama-Huntsville - a noticeably smaller (in stature) team that had been winless yet this season.

But more importantly, I did not drink beer. When we showed up, for whatever reason I was cranky. Tired, still not feeling well, and just plain old ornery. I want a frosty beer. I pouted in my seat for a bit and texted Lauren about wanting a beer. She, being the good friend she is, tried her best to dissuade me from having one. I think mostly it was my pride that stopped me. Who makes wide-sweeping claims about not drinking beer and then gives up in the first week? Not this gal, thats for darn sure.

And you know what? After about an hour, it wasn't even hard to resist. Those suckers were 7 bucks and I was saving money! After the game we all went out to the local bar and resisting wasn't even a challenge. One friend gave me a little bit of a hard time and tried to coax me into a mixed drink, but honestly I was looking forward to waking up feeling refreshed the next day. Which I did, mostly, when I finally awoke at 11am this morning. I guess my body really was worn out!

I've never been one for having a great amount of willpower. I like pizza and beer and my body reflects that. But I really like the feeling of accomplishment, no matter how small the feat, that I feel this morning. So now I'm off to the pool and then to the movies, taking my pride along with me.

Happy Saturday!

And seriously, read my dad's blog.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Friday Facts

1.) Tonight I'm going to the DU Hockey game. I've gone to two other games and still don't really understand why sometimes just one dude hangs out by himself with the puck behind the net.

2.) I'm still bitter the Jets didn't beat the Giants. Eagles could have been staring down a post season game.

3.) I buy new purses occasionally but usually revert back to an old, dumpy one I got from American Eagle at least a decade ago.

4.) The stock show is in town. Longhorn cattle roamed the streets of Denver yesterday.

5.) I'm really enjoying not drinking beer during training. Its the most hydrated I've been in months.

6.) Miles (the Denver Broncos Mascot) is marching down 16th with a crew of marching band drummers handing out towels. It will be the Broncos first postseason game in 6 or 7 seasons. Timmy Tebow is going to be creamed by Big Ben.

7.) My Dad has started a food blog. You should read it.

8.) I own one pair of jeans. I wear them until they get holes in them and then buy a new pair of the exact same kind. I've done this for 6 years.

9.) When I wear high heels, I can't feel my smallest toes for the next day or two.

10.) I haven't turned on the heat in my apartment yet.

11.) I have a serious problem with buying pj pants. Not just my annual christmas jammies, but all pj bottoms. I have a whole drawer full and its overflowing.

12.) I have a really hard time coming up with these things. Sometimes I wait until Katie has posted hers, then steal some (ie: See #3).

13.) I don't have much patience. It's something I need to work on.

14.) I am putting off taking down my Christmas decorations because that means I have to wait a whole 11 more months to put them back up again. But part of my OCD brain wants them down so the apartment is in order again.

15.) I used to bite my nails constantly. One day I just stopped. I still don't know why.

16.) Sometimes I have trouble really relaxing because my brain is always planning the next thing I have to do.

17.) Oscar season is upon us! Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is on my list for tomorrow.

Happy Friday!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Three Things Thursday

1.) No Excuses. That is the theme of the new season of Biggest Loser, which started Tuesday. I'm not an avid BL watcher (although I may be changing my tune - Hellooooo Dolvett!), but when I'm home and its on, I don't mind it. While I didn't care for them showing people throwing up in buckets during their first workout, I really liked the mantra of the season: No excuses. No, I'm too tired, or I'm never home, or I'm always on travel.

I'm putting this mantra into practice today. I'm sick again (or still. And yes, mom, I've been washing my hands) and all I want are my covers and jammies. But my training plan says three miles are my destiny. Do I want to work out? Heck no! But, no excuses. So instead of doing an internal workout like I had planned, I'm just going to crank up the incline on the treadmill and walk/run for three miles. It's not the best, but its something.

2.) Today I finally sucked it up and started writing a section for a project that I'd be majorly dreading/putting off. It was complicated and big and one giant headache and I had been avoiding it like the plague. After bumbling along, I finally got into a rhythm and really started plowing through it. It's 90% done and I'll come in with fresh eyes tomorrow and polish it off. I am no longer filled with dread and even started to feel better, knowing the weight was lifted. Amazing how much taking something off your plate can make you feel better!

3.) I rejoined MFD, the site my sister and I both use for calorie counting. I'm not a huge fan of calorie counting (as evidenced by my expanding waistline), but I have found it very informative in the past for tracking nutrition, namely protein and vitamins. It does, however, make me think twice before eating something I don't need and shouldn't be consuming, so I guess thats a good thing.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

I love Denver graffiti.

"I am the Lorax! I speak for the trees!"

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Adventures in the Kitchen

For Christmas I had asked for new pots to replace my woebegone-$7.99 for three-set from Ikea bought several years ago. I was delighted to receive a full set of new pots, pans, and lids which arrived on my doorstop yesterday morning.

So shiny and new!

I cooked up my usual egg white breakfast in the smallest pan and couldn't believe the difference it made. My pans were actually more recently bought, and not Ikea-made, but I still needed to empty about half a can of Pam onto it to cook my eggs normally. I sprayed the new pan and, while flipping the eggs around, just about threw them across the kitchen because the non-stick coating worked so well!

After cooking breakfast, I happily emptied my stock of pots and lids (non-matching lids, I might add, from my original set my junior year in college) and put them in the cardboard wasteland that was beginning to pile up in my entryway.

After retreating back to my bed for a few more movies and napping, I planned a menu for the week, created a grocery list, and headed out to the store. It was a madhouse. Apparently everyone else was using their day off to catch up on their to-do list as well. There were a few items already sold out, but mostly I'm set for a week of healthy eating (minus those Poptarts that just jumped in my cart when I wasn't looking!).

For dinner I attempted to recreate the absolutely delicious pork chops (yes, pork chops) that my dad made last week while I was home. Now, I'm not a huge fan of the other white meat, but my dad's meal was so incredibly good I even went back for seconds.

He sent me the recipe and, while my concoction turned out ok, it was not the bouquet of flavors that he had created. I think my main problem was that I didn't measure things out and forgot to halve the recipe for some of the steps. Whoops! I also didn't use real paprika, but instead a blend that included paprika, which I think may have made the major difference.

I forgot to take pictures during prep and before I started eating

Given the lack of proper nutrition in my diet, I had also picked up "Veggie Pasta" at Safeway and a new kind of red sauce to add to the meal. They were both terrible. The sauce was sweet and the pasta disgusting (although I brought the leftovers to try again today, sans sauce). So that part of the meal could be greatly improved. I threw in a salad for some greens (yes, I recognize it is pathetic looking) and would have had broccoli, but the store was out.

Overall, it was a decent meal that yielded leftovers for me to bring for lunch. I will try this recipe again, but pay a bit more attention to the instructions and maybe buy the real ingredients :)

Monday, January 2, 2012

Oh hello there, 2012

I don't do resolutions. I have never found them helpful. Instead, a few years ago, I started setting goals or picking one thing each year that scared the pants off of me or just deciding to do something I'd always wanted to do.

The first year it was the Philly Sprint Triathlon, the second year I moved to Denver. Last year it was completing my first half marathon in spite of being a pretty terrible runner.

This year I'm going big. I've picked two main goals - complete my first century race (I've picked Elephant Rock, in June) and the biggie: my first half Iron Man tri. That pretty much scares the beejeebies out of me.

I like training for Tris because I have exercise ADD. I don't like to do the same thing for months on end, like I'll be doing this winter as I ready for the DC Rock N Roll half in March. Thanks to two friends back home, I've started out my training well, completing a 3 mile and 4 mile run without stopping; no small feat considering I haven't been running consistently since July. I love winter running and, while I don't like to set time goals for myself, I'd like to take ten minutes off of my SF race time. I recognize that seems a bit lofty, but my SF pace was something along the lines of 11:20 miles, which really needs work. My original goal was a 10:30 pace, so if I can hit that, I'll be delighted.

So, as I rang in the new year with some of my oldest college friends at a lovely cabin in the Poconos, I thought about my goals for each of these races and how I would get myself to the starting line of each.

DC Half Marathon - March 17
Yep, that's St Patty's Day, folks

I'm running this race with a lot of my friends, which only makes it that much more fun. While talking about our training plans, Lauren and I made a pact: No beer from January 1 - March 16. Red wine is allowed, but no more that two glasses on any given night (I mean, c'mon, red wine is good for your heart! Can't lose that!).

Follow my training plan to the letter.
Work on pace, not just mileage, for the shorter runs.
Continue to do yoga 2-3 times a week so my calves don't freak out.
Invest in the stinkin' Garmin watch so I can get an accurate feel for my pace/distance.

Elephant Rock Century - Castle Rock, CO - June 3, 2012

For this race, I'm officially investing in a new road bike. I bought my REI-brand road bike several years ago, but it is heavy and fairly poor construction and not suitable for anything other than my 3 mile round trip commute, which it will still continue to do. For about 6 months, I've been mentally preparing to drop upwards to 2K for a new bike, shoes, pedals, and gloves. I'm hoping it will amount to much less than that, but the mental preparation is there nonetheless.

Steal Katie's 30 days of cycling in April to get my butt and legs in biking shape.
Finish. Don't die.
Maybe ride up Lookout Mountain. Maybe.

Beach to Battleship Half Iron Man - Wilmington, NC - October 20

All fall, I kind of floundered around looking for a race I'd like to do. Two weeks ago, Katie mentioned she was contemplating doing this one and I was sold. After looking it up, it was all of the pieces I was looking for - a fall race (a solid two months of not "hot as balls" training, when I'll be getting into my longer distances), ocean water, and a pretty destination. Mentally, I haven't really tackled what individual goals I may have for this race, other than really I just want to finish. In August, I'm tentatively scheduled to spend a week at the Outer Banks, so I'm planning on sticking to the training schedule and being able to get some Atlantic Ocean swimming in and may possibly do a ridiculous amount of miles on a rented beach cruiser bike. I'm sure my butt will love that.

Also, this race may be around the time of UMD Homecoming, so I'm contemplating driving to the race and then popping up the eastern seaboard (or vice versa).

I've got other assorted non-athletic goals for 2012 as well, some of which are more "stop talking about it and just do it" and other little silly ones, just for fun.

Buy a new car (front runner: the Xterra)
Aim to save $1000/month towards new car deposit (the no beer challenge will help this goal!)
See all Best Picture/Best Actor/Actress-nominated Oscar films
Finally start a Roth IRA
Pay off student loan by March. Enjoy being debt free.
Stop being cheap and starting paying for internet at home.

Those are just the few I've been throwing around in my head. They may evolve, as most goals are wont to do, but generally I am happy with them. I also, like every other American, want, and need, to lose weight, but I don't like to set a number or a specific goal. In order to finish my races, my exercise will ramp up and in order to be able to complete solid workouts, I will need to eat better and drink less. The combination should result in a happier, healthier, more energetic Ru and the weight will be what it will be. I'm the heaviest I've ever been (presumably - I'm scared of the scale), and just really unhappy that I've let myself get to this point and I hate always being tired. I'm ready to be healthier, that readiness (and slow down in travel schedule) just happens to overlap with the coming of a new year. How cliche of me!

So here's to a happy, healthy, event-filled and goal-driven 2012!